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What’s it like to lose it when you’re 27?

At 27, high school, college and post-college were behind me. I was at the end of my second real-world job. I had experienced all my friends’ hookups and relationships as a third wheel, and I had consumed more romantic comedies than I realized. So I had arrived at an unholy trinity of high, low and no expectations. No expectations, because I hadn’t experienced sex before, and it had been nine years since I had kissed someone. Low expectations because I had gathered that many guys were untrustworthy in life and selfish in bed and I assumed I was going to be horrible at it. And high expectations because 27 years is more time than most people get to build them up.

I felt an anticipatory, subconscious calm the night it happened. I was staying at my parents’ house, having just returned from a trip, and I drove a couple hours to meet up with him. I wore something that made me feel confident, and we went to dinner. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I know I felt relaxed. After paying for my meal, he asked me if I’d like to come back to his apartment for a drink.

The walk was short, and I was smiling nervously the whole time. The feeling of being next to someone in public and knowing they wanted you was thrilling, energizing and completely foreign to me. For that night he was mine and I was his and no one could get in our way.

We drank a lot, probably more than we needed to, but I know it helped ease my anxiety. Even as we made out on the couch and transitioned to his bed, I knew I’d be nervous just to show my body to someone else and to see someone else’s body for the first time. I think my age and the alcohol settled whatever insecurities I had about my own body, but I hadn’t seen many naked male bodies before, and I definitely hadn’t seen one that wanted to have sex with me.

Somewhere in the process, I told him I hadn’t had sex before. From my drunk standpoint, he seemed fine with it, because we definitely kept doing it. I followed his lead the whole time, and I was as open-minded as he was patient – an example being that I learned the “no teeth” rule pretty quickly.

I feel comfortable saying that he slept decently that night and I did not. I can’t imagine how I would have been able to fall asleep; being an only child, I struggled to fall asleep at sleepovers and took my sweet time getting used to having roommates in college. Moreover, I had never slept naked by myself, let alone with another person naked next to me.

We woke up with our heads throbbing – in his case, in more ways than one. (I’ll get to that later.) Hungover, I put on my dress and shuffled to the bathroom, only to realize that I had left a trail of blood droplets behind me.

I knew that sex could be painful the first time, and that I might even bleed, but I still wasn’t mentally prepared for the blood. I was mortified – though I wasn’t hurt, and what happened wasn’t bad or wrong. It just meant I was (a) a human with feelings who had (b) just lost her virginity. I couldn’t help feeling gross, though. I felt the same way I felt when I got hit in the face with a soccer ball in high school and my nose started gushing. I just didn’t want anyone to look at me.

Just like my high school pals – who actually wanted to look at my face so they could help me stop the bleeding – he didn’t care. I believe his exact words were, “I know how bodies work,” which was sweet music to my ears at this critical, impressionable moment. He didn’t find me gross.

I grabbed some paper towels from his kitchen, and he followed with cleaning supplies and just let me do the carpet-blotting I wanted to do.

After that, I showered – blood still spattered at the hem of my dress – and then we said our goodbyes, and he very honestly admitted, “I really need to jack off.” Of course. He was a gentleman the whole night, but he still had needs. So I left him to it and went home.

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